Zip Disks! I Have Not Missed You!
How does this sound: A disk that’s barely larger than a standard 3.5-inch floppy with a 100MB capacity, costs less than $20, and transfers data at nearly the speed of a hard disk.
What’s the catch? You must have a special drive to use these disks. But that’s actually part of the appeal. As a self-contained box, Iomega’s Zip drive installs easily into your PC or Mac.
The Zip drive is simply one of the year’s best products for small-business computer users. Granted, hard-drive prices have plummeted in the past few months, but even 1GB hard disks won’t store everything when you’re dealing with huge multimedia files, scanned images, and 10MB-plus applications. And you still need an external storage device to back up your files.
The Zip disk’s combination of high speed and capacity lets you run programs directly from the unit. Even demanding multimedia applications with hefty digital video files ran just fine on our test systems. You can also store current working files on Zip disks, dedicating individual disks to each client, job, or type of project, and easily carry all the pertinent files (including the applications you need to run them) between the road and your office.
Zip drives come in two flavors, with either a parallel port or an SCSI connector. The parallel port model (for IBM compatibles) includes a pass-through connector, so you can run both your printer and the Zip drive off the same port. The SCSI model is ready to run for Macintosh users. On the DOS side, the Zip drive is compatible with many existing SCSI adapters, and if you don’t already have one, Iomega offers its own high-speed Zip Zoom SCSI adapter for a reasonable $50.
The main difference between the parallel and SCSI models is speed. Parallel port model performance is respectable–copying a 55MB test file from a fast hard drive to the Zip drive took just a little more than five minutes. If your computer is equipped with an enhanced parallel port, that transfer time is cut in half. We clocked the fastest speeds, however, using the SCSI model: 90 seconds to move 55MB isn’t bad in anybody’s book.
Bundled software includes useful file cataloging utilities for both PC and Mac systems. Though only the Mac version includes a file backup utility, we had no problems using standard backup programs with the Zip drive on either platform.
The Zip drive is highly portable: At about the size of a paperback book, it weighs in at just a little more than a pound. Unfortunately, it comes with a heavy, bulky power adapter that isn’t exactly briefcase friendly (a smaller, universal power supply is available for $40). But if backup is a priority, the Zip drive is an ideal combination of simplicity, capacity, practicality, and value.